A leading insurer has called for extra support from the judicial process if defendants are effectively to contest spurious personal injury claims.
Defendant firm Horwich Farrelly and insurer LV= today reported that they had secured a fundamental dishonesty defence after appealing a personal injury judgment.
But victory came only after defeat at first instance, when the judge appeared to disregard the fact that the defendants had been misled.
LV= claims director Martin Milliner said the outcome was welcome but illustrated why insurers are reluctant to pursue claims they believe to be spurious.
He added: 'Insurers are often wrongly criticised for not defending enough spurious whiplash claims. The original court decision highlights just how hard it is for us to win even when the facts speak for themselves.
‘Taking whiplash claims to the High Court on Appeal is a disproportionately expensive way to underline the point that for insurers to defend more cases to trial we need more backing, support and certainty of outcome from the judicial process, especially at first instance.’
Following a collision in September 2016, the claimant reported that the impact was ‘heavy and violent’ and felt ‘like a small bomb going off’, with his shoulder injuries purportedly taking 10 months to heal.
But investigations by the insurer found the claimant had been discharged from physiotherapy fully recovered five weeks after the accident and following just two sessions. He claimed to be unable to attend his gym for three months, but his physio discharge report showed he was fully fit after after five weeks.
The case went to trial at Manchester County Court last December, where the judge found the claimant did exaggerate his case and the evidence could be disregarded. But the judge also found he had no option but to award damages of almost £1,900 based on the physio’s report.
Appealing before Mrs Justice Andrews at the High Court in Manchester, Horwich Farrelly argued in its appeal that the claimant had acted dishonestly in the presentation of his claim and he should be stripped of his original damages and ordered to pay legal costs. The judge agreed and dismissed the claim on the basis it was fundamentally dishonest.
Horwich Farrelly said this was the ninth Section 57 fundamental dishonesty ruling it had secured since April 2016 – with over 400 CPR 44.16 fundamental dishonesty findings achieved to date.